California Developer CWS Looks To Build 60% Closer Than Current Law Allows
AUSTIN, Texas- LAWFUEL – US Law News –SaveTownLake.org, a citizens group formed to oppose development that violates the Waterfront Overlay Ordinance along Austin’s historic Town Lake Corridor, is working to prevent Austin City officials from allowing California developer CWS Apartment Homes to skirt existing ordinances that apply to river front property along Town Lake.
CWS wants to build an 800-1,000 unit condo development at 222-300 East Riverside. In order to do that, the developer needs a variance of the city’s Waterfront Overlay Ordinance. Because of a legal peculiarity, the Planning Commission and not the City Council has final approval of the variance decision. The ordinance provides that developments must be set back a total of 200 feet from Town Lake’s banks. CWS wants an exemption that will allow it to build the development just 80 feet from the river bank, a full 60 percent closer than the existing Waterfront Overlay Ordinance permits. The purpose of the current ordinance is to preserve the aesthetic quality of the historic and revered Town Lake corridor for all of Austin.
“A few well heeled developers and high priced lawyers should not be able to set aside the established intention of the community that was reflected through the carefully considered and thoughtful Waterfront Overlay Ordinance,” said Scott Hendler, Director. “We call upon Toby Futrell and city staff to ensure the integrity of the review process by carefully evaluating the developer’s compliance with all procedures and regulations.”
In addition to the variance request, opponents of the project charge that CWS has failed to adhere to certain city requirements for the payment of hundreds of thousands, and possibly millions, of dollars to the city’s Neighborhood Park and Recreation Improvement Fund. Additionally, according to SaveTownLake.org, CWS has not included adequate initiatives for affordable housing and green building in connection with the newly-submitted site plan.
SaveTownLake.org supporters, more than 1,000 citizens strong and growing, contend the developer is pushing the plans through without adequate notice to Austin residents who want their vehement opposition to violation of the Waterfront Overlay known to planning officials and city council members prior to voting on the project.
Members of SaveTownLake.org hand-delivered a letter today to City Manager Toby Futrell stating their objections to the current process under which review of this development has been proceeding. The group has retained leading downtown Austin, Texas law firm Brown McCarroll to represent the organization in all necessary legal action to prevent the degradation of the Town Lake Corridor from irresponsible development.
This is the first of some 20 similar projects being advanced by developers who are anxiously watching the precedent setting actions of the City of Austin in this case. SaveTownLake.org is committed to responsible development and to defending the integrity of the Town Lake Corridor and the Waterfront Overlay Ordinance.
A copy of the letter to City Manager Futrell is available at www.SaveTownLake.org. STL encourages anyone interested to register as a supporter at this website.